I've been slowly building my modular over the last 10 years or so. It started with a 6U Doepfer Basic System I bought used from Germany, with the details of the transaction hashed out via bablefish. Back then, the euro format was supported by three small companies and their presence in the United States was minimal at best. But interest in analog hardware was growing, driven by a new generation of synthesizer enthusiasts, who were rediscovering the lost joy of manipulating sound with physical controls.
At the time, only vintage hardware featured knobs that directly manipulated the sound. All modern instruments were programmed via an LCD menu system. The market for vintage instruments exploded and analog synthesizers became scarce. People discovered these primitive instruments offered a fairly limiting palette of sounds and, for those who sought a combination of hands on control and open ended signal and control path flexibility, modular synthesizers were where it was at. However, modular synthesizers in working condition were scarcest of all, with systems fetching many thousands of dollars. It was under these conditions that a market arose for a new generation of modular synthesizer.
Over the years, my collection of external synthesizer synthesizer hardware like the Roland JV-1080 dwindled and my resources were redirected into my fledgling euro modular. I expanded out of my rack mount chassis to a Doepfer monster case, which I liked tremendously because it consolidated my system into one space. I added a monster base, which gave me more room, but somehow took something away from the integration. Eventually, I outgrew that too. A module at a time over many years will do that. It isn't as though I never sold any modules, either. I'm not sure how much of my original basic system remains.
Today, my modular contains modules from Doepfer, TipTop, The Harvestman, WMD, Make Noise, Analogue Systems, Cwejman, Plan B, Malekko, Elby, Livewire. 4MS, Intellijel, and Analogue Solutions.
I've loved synthesizers since I was very young, but no single synthesizer has held my interest for this long. This is because the synthesizer itself evolves, and I can direct the upgrades and the addition of new functions. A new module doesn't simply add a single function, it changes what I can do with the modules I already have; the interaction is new, refreshing the possibilities of the entire system.
Last year, unsatisfied with the ergonomics of my off-the-shelf enclosures, I asked my brother to design and build a custom case for my modular. My work is entirely in the studio, so portability wasn't a concern, and, I can barely lift a monster case anyway. After many months of painstaking work under very tight tolerances, this is the result.
The basic criteria was to widen the six row monster base/monster case combination another rack width, creating a triple-wide configuration that is easy to reach across. The width of such a configuration is about the same a standard piano keyboard. The curved design brings the top row dow to a more reachable height. The foot print of the system isn't much wider than my previous configuration.
• Front panel power switch
• Three slide out shelves
• TipTop Zeus power system provides native Analogue Systems power connections and additional fault tolerance. Amazingly, all driven from a tiny power brick. No more huge transformers. I can't say enough good things about this.
• Integrated LED lighting system with dimmer
• The entire unit is height adjustable
• Integrated cable tree doesn't take up any floor space and can be positioned on either side of the modular.
• Way more stable than previous system. The modular doesn't bounce or wobble when I patch
The triple wide boats provide additional flexibility in arranging my modules, for example, I've never been able to have my A-154 and two A-155 sequencers all in a row next to each other. In fact, the most populated row is the sequencer/logic/clocking row. It is very helpful to have all these modules grouped together.
In addition to designing and building the system, my brother and his wife drove up from Texas to personally deliver it. It is impossible to express how thankful I am that they were able to do all this. I hope you're able to appreciate the level of craftsmanship from these pictures. More setup photos at my flickr.
Some of you may be wondering what this thing sounds like. Please check out my all modular release, A Funneled Stone which was created with this exact collection of modules (with the exception of the RS-370 which I was finally able to place in the system). Now that I have my new modular system in place, I plan to embark on a follow up.
Oh, and what do you do with the leftover pieces of wood? You build a micro trebuchet, because that's how my family rolls.
I'm sure my brother will be reading the comments here, so let him know what you think of his work.
EDIT: 1512 around the web